Both active and contemplative

WE have to learn to be both active and contemplative in our life.

Active in the sense that we immerse ourselves as deeply as possible in the dynamic of earthly and temporal affairs, while also contemplative in the sense that in all these affairs, we see God, we are driven by love for God and everybody else, we get to know, love and serve him and everybody else.

It’s an ideal that definitely is not easy to achieve. But we have our whole life to do it, and we actually are also given all the means to attain it. It just depends on us as to whether we want to have that ideal or not.

Contrary to some popular belief or fear, to be both active and contemplative is not a futile exercise. To be active and to be contemplative are not two exclusively separate qualities. There is a distinction between the two, but not division. They can co-exist in a subject at the same time. Both are meant to build a unity of life proper to us.

We have to be active in our life because we need to do many things, we have to work and produce things, we have to apply a certain forcefulness. We cannot be totally passive, waiting for things to happen even if they also happen without us doing anything.

We cannot be complacent. Of course, we should not forget that to be active is also a result of God’s grace. We cannot be truly active unless we receive the grace of God. There is a certain aspect of receptiveness in our activeness. But we have to correspond to that grace as actively and fully as possible.

We have to be contemplative also because we have to do everything with God as the beginning and end of all our actions. We have to see God in everything. We have to feel the workings of his providence over us and all over the world.

We need to see his will and follow it. In fact, to be contemplative also requires a certain amount of effort, and therefore, it requires us also to be active in being contemplative. While it is a result of grace that is gratuitously given to us, it is also a result of our active correspondence to that grace.

We have to develop a certain lifestyle that can address this necessity of ours adequately. Given our human condition, we have to realize that we need certain practices that will foster these active and contemplative qualities in our life.

We have to have some moments of deep prayer, meditation, reflection, study. We also have to have moments of intense work and deep involvement in our earthly affairs. The ideal to reach is that we can arrive at a point where we can hardly distinguish anymore between prayer and work, because both are done in an active and contemplative way.

Thus, we have to feel the need for a certain plan, a certain strategy to pursue this ideal of ours. We just cannot and should not coast along and flow with the tide. We need to have direction and dominion in our life, even if there is also God’s providence that is directing and dominating it.

Let’s hope that there will come a time when the general culture and environment will show and reinforce this lifestyle where we would be both active and contemplative. We have to help one another to achieve this, but we have to start with our own selves.

It may look quixotic as of now, but everything will look like that until we act on it. There is always hope. We have all the means. It’s just our will that needs to assent to this project, and the daily effort to carry it out, step by little step.